Cover Story

Why a church wedding? Truth telling about Christian marriage

Our wedding issue also includes Katherine Willis Pershey on a parishioner who got ordained online, Steve Thorngate on the very liturgical wedding, and Celeste Kennel-Shank on the challenges of interfaith weddings.

Attracting the ire of older church members is never a pleasant experience for a pastor. My friend Matthew found this out when a young woman who had grown up in his church wanted to return to it for her wedding. She and her fiancé agreed to participate in pastoral counseling sessions, but when they met together with the pastor, problems arose. The young woman became uncomfortable when Matthew asked her why she wanted to be married in the church. The young man was candid about not being a believer. As they talked, Matthew learned that the idea of a church marriage was not theirs; the bride’s mother had suggested it.

The couple didn’t object to getting married in her family’s old church; in fact, they found the idea a little romantic. But they weren’t particularly interested in a church wedding as Matthew described it. He told them that he would marry them, but only after more extensive conversations about Christian marriage and Christianity itself: a community shaped by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were offended and left. Matthew spent the rest of his week dealing with parents, aunts, and church members who could not understand why he’d turn down an opportunity to serve a young couple.